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Reign of George I

State of Parties in England - George I. proclaimed - Electoral Prince created Prince of Wales - King arrives in England - Tories excluded from Favour - Pretender's Manifesto - New Parliament - Bolingbroke retires to France - Sir William Wyndham reprimanded by the Speaker - Admiral Norris sent to the Baltic - Resolution to impeach Oxford, Ormonde, and Stratford - Oxford sent to the Tower - The King announces to Parliament the Commencement of a Rebellion - Ormonde and Bolingbroke attainted - Death of Louis XIV. - The Earl of Mar erects the Pretender's Standard in Scotland - Members of the Commons arrested - Pretender proclaimed in the North of England by the Earl of Derwentwater and Mr. Foster - Mackintosh joins the English Insurgents - They surrender at Preston - Battle of Dunblane- Pretender in Scotland - Returns to France - The Rebel Lords tried-Lords Derwentwater and Kenmair beheaded - Trials of other Rebels - Septennial Act - Duke of Argyll disgraced - Triple Alliance betwixt England, France, and Holland - Count Gyllenborg, Swedish Minister in London, arrested - Oxford Riots - The Commons pass the South Sea Act, the Bank Act, and General Fund Act - Trial of the Earl of Oxford - Proceedings in Convocation respecting Hoadley, Bishop of Bangor.
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The calculations of no political party had ever been more completely falsified than that of the Jacobites and their congeners the tories on the death of the queen. They had relied on the fact that the house of Hanover was regarded with dislike as successors to the throne of England by all the catholic powers of Europe, on account of their protestantism, and many of the protestant powers from jealousy; and calculated that, whilst France would be disposed to support the claims of the pretender, there were no continental countries which would support those of Hanover, except Holland and the new kingdom of Prussia, neither of which created them much alarm. Prussia was but a minor power, not capable of furnishing much aid to a contest in England. Holland had been too much exhausted by a long war to be willing to engage in another, except for a cause which vitally concerned itself. In England, the tories being in power, and Bolingbroke earnest in the cause of the pretender, the duke of Ormonde at the head of the army, there appeared to the minds of the Jacobites nothing to fear but the too early demise of the queen, which might find their plans yet unmatured. To this they, in fact, attributed their failure; but we may very confidently assert that, even had Anne lived as long as they desired her, there was one element omitted in their calculations which would have overthrown all their attempts - the invincible antipathy to popery in the heart of the nation, which the steadfast temper of the pretender showed must inevitably come back with him to renew all the old struggles. The event of the queen's death discovered, too, the comparative weakness of the tory faction, the strength and activity of the whigs. The king showing no haste to arrive, gave ample opportunity to the Jacobites - had they been in any degree prepared, as they ought to have been, after so many years, for this great crisis - to introduce the pretender and rally round his standard. But whilst George I. lingered, no Stuart appeared; and the whigs had taken such careful and energetic precautions, that without him every attempt must only have brought destruction on the movers. The measures of Shrewsbury were complete. The way by sea was secured for the protestant king, though he showed no haste in coming; and the regency act provided for the security of every department of government at home.

Before the proclamation of the new king the council had met, and, according to the regency act, and an instrument signed by the king and produced by Herr Kreyenberg, the Hanoverian resident, nominated the persons who were to act till the king's arrival. They consisted of the seven great officers of state and a number of the peers. The whole was found to include eighteen of the principal noblemen, nearly all of the whig party, as the dukes of Shrewsbury, Somerset, and Argyll; the lords Cowper, Halifax, and Townshend. It was noticed, however, that neither Marlborough, Sunderland, nor Somers was of the number; nor ought this to have excited any surprise, when it was recollected that the list was drawn out in 1705, though only signed just before the queen's death. These noblemen belonged to that junto under whose thraldom Anne had so long groaned. The omission, however, greatly incensed Marlborough and Sunderland. Marlborough landed at Dover on the day of the queen's death, where he was received with the warmest acclamations and tokens of the highest popularity. He was met on his approach to London by a procession of two hundred gentlemen, headed by Sir Charles Coxe, member for Southwark. As he drew nearer this procession was joined by a long train of carriages. It was like a triumph; and Bothmar, the Hanoverian minister, wrote home that it was as if he had gained another battle at Hochstet; that he would be of great service in case the pretender should make any attempt, but that he was displeased that he was not in the regency, or that any man except the king should be higher in the country than he. He went straight to the house of lords to take the oaths to the king; but at Temple Bar his carriage broke down, to the great delight of the people, because it compelled him to come out and enter another, by which they got a good view of him. Having taken the oaths, he retired into the country till the arrival of the king, disgusted at his not being in the regency.

The lords justices having met, appointed Joseph Addison, afterwards so celebrated as a writer, and even now very popular, as their secretary, and ordered all dispatches addressed to Bolingbroke to be brought to him. This was an intimation that Bolingbroke would be dismissed; and that proud minister, instead of giving orders, was obliged to receive them, and to wait at the door of the council-chamber with his bags and papers. As the lords justices were apprehending that there might be some disturbances in Ireland, they were about to send over Sunderland as lord lieutenant, and general Stanhope as commander-in-chief; but they were speedily relieved of their fears by the intelligence that all had passed off quietly there; that the lords justices of Ireland, the archbishop, of Armagh, and Sir Constantine Phipps, who had been more than suspected of Jacobitism, had proclaimed the king on the 6th of August, and, to give evidence of their new zeal, had issued a proclamation for disarming papists and seizing their horses. The proclamation passed with the same quietness in Scotland, and no king, had he been born a native, in the quietest times, could have succeeded more smoothly. If any disturbance was to come from any quarter, it must be from France. There were reports that preparations were making there in favour of the pretender, and, what was suspicious, Matthew Prior, the resident there, gave no information of any kind in his dispatches, and wrote in cypher where Bothmar observed he might write with all openness. But Prior had been the confidential agent of Bolingbroke, and probably did not feel very much at ease under the new circumstances. There was another man of a more mercurial and enterprising character in Paris, lord Peterborough, who hastened over with assurances from Louis XIV., as fast as post-horses could carry him, that he desired to live in peace, and to observe the treaty. Louis confirmed this himself in a letter. In fact, the pretender, who on the news of Anne's death had gone from Lorraine to Paris to consult with his mother and friends regarding a prompt expedition to England, was ordered by De Torcy to return to Bar-le-duc, which he did. All intelligence from that quarter, therefore, tended to allay fears of commotion.

But in proportion to the absence of alarm from without, was the rush and bustle amongst the whig expectants for promotion. Though the king had not arrived, baron Bothmar was in full correspondence with him, keeping him au fait as to all the incidents of the government, and he was become the all-important medium of royal favour. He was beset daily by a swarm of candidates for offices and promotions. The churchmen were in eager pursuit of the vacant bishopric of Ely, and every place at court, in the courts of law, and the army had its throng of aspirants. Bothmar, amid these conflicting claims, recommended lord Halifax to be first lord of the treasury, assisted by Mr. Boyle and Mr. Walpole; that Orford, the formerly double-dealing Russell, should be first lord of the admiralty; that Marlborough, Sunderland, Stanhope, and Cadogan should have places, and that the duke of Shrewsbury should be allowed to retire. Sunderland made a bold push for the place of secretary of state; and the earl of Manchester, who had been ambassador at Venice, and secretary of state at home, desired the office of a lord of the king's bedchamber. Bishop Burnet also solicited the place of groom of the bed-chamber for his son. Bothmar recommended some of these, but advised the king as to the rest to confine himself to general promises, and to act as he saw best after he had been himself awhile in the country, and had obtained a clearer view of their respective merits.

Tories as well as whigs put in their claims. Lord Hertford, the eldest son of the duke of Somerset, sought the post of a lord-in-waiting either to the king or the prince George; the duke of Buckingham, who, as we have noted, had married the natural daughter of James II. by Catherine Sedley, solicited for his duchess the place of a lady of the bed-chamber; and that duke of Grafton, one of the grandsons of Charles II., whose mother had now married Sir Thomas Hanmer, also desired to be a lord of the bedchamber, and Bothmar recommended him. "We are gaping and staring," wrote the tory Erasmus Lewis, a tool of the late ministry, "to see who is to rule us. The whigs think they shall engross all; we think we shall have our share."

The parliament, according to a provision of the act of regency, met on the very day of the queen's death, Sunday though it was. The tories endeavoured to obtain a little delay by moving, through secretary Bromley, that the house adjourn till Wednesday, as the speaker was in Wales; but this was defeated by Sir Richard Onslow, who declared that the country was in too critical a state, and moved and carried that the house should meet the next day. Three days were occupied in the administration of the oaths. On the 5th the lords justices went to the house of peers, and the chancellor, addressing the commons there, recommended that they should consult the honour of the crown by voting such branches of the revenue as had expired with the queen. He said that the regency forbore laying before them anything which did not require their immediate consideration, not having received his majesty's pleasure; but he exhorted them, with the greatest earnestness, to a perfect unanimity and a firm adhesion to the sovereign's interest, as the only means of preserving the present happy tranquillity.

Loyal addresses to the throne were carried unanimously in both houses, expressing that accommodating grief and pleasure which can so readily blend on such occasions. They expressed the liveliest grief for the death of Anne of blessed memory, and the liveliest pleasure at the accession of a monarch of such princely virtues and undoubted right to the crown. The next business was to settle the civil list. Anne had had seven hundred thousand pounds, and it was the opinion of the whigs that the same should be granted to the king, and that a new parliament should further provide for prince George and his family. As there was no queen, the electress having been dead some years, this would have been ample; but the tories, determined to make a bold stroke for the recovery of favour, or damage the whigs by putting them into the position of less liberality, voted for a million! The manoeuvre was too palpable, and the whigs, without attempting to oppose this sum, went on and voted that which the late sovereign had had, namely, seven hundred thousand pounds.

Whilst the bill was in progress, Horace Walpole, the brother of Robert, moved that the sum of sixty-five thousand and twenty-two pounds arrears of pay due to the Hanoverian troops - which had been withheld ever since July, 1712, because they would not desert the allies at the base commands of the Oxford and Bolingbroke ministry - should be discharged. The demand for payment of these arrears had been repeatedly made by the whigs, but the tory government had continued to refuse it, and it had been rejected by a large majority only a few weeks before in the same house of commons. But now there was a Hanoverian sovereign on the throne, and the motion was no sooner made by Horace Walpole than it was seconded by the tory Sir William Wyndham, and carried without opposition. It was wonderful what a new light had burst on the tories. Another clause was proposed by Horace Walpole - that a reward of one hundred thousand pounds should be offered for the apprehension of the pretender, should he attempt a landing, and was carried with the same ease. Some money bills having been passed, the session was closed by prorogation.

During these transactions there was naturally an earnestly- inquiring eye kept open towards Hanover, whence the king appeared in no hurry to issue forth and assume the throne of these three fair kingdoms. The coolness with which George of Hanover appeared to contemplate the splendid prize which had fallen to him, appeared to the English little less than unnatural. Thrones and crowns are generally seized upon with avidity; but the new king seemed to feel more regret in quitting his petty electorate than eagerness to enter on his splendid kingdom. But George was a man of phlegmatic disposition, and of the most exact habits, and went through his duties like an automaton or a piece of machinery. He took, therefore, much time in settling his affairs in Hanover before he turned his face towards England, and it was not till the 18th of September, or nearly seven weeks after the decease of the late queen, that he landed at Greenwich with his son George. "His views and affections were," as lord Chesterfield properly observed, "singly confined to the narrow compass of his electorate. England was too big for him."

Nor was his appearance, when he did arrive, calculated to enchant his new subjects. His countenance was heavy, his manners awkward, and he had a great dislike to public display, the very acclamations of the people in welcome of him being an annoyance to him. He was now fifty-four years of age, and firmly stereotyped into a slow, dull German mould. It was soon discovered that his mind was as dull as his appearance; that he was narrow and obstinate to an extreme; had no taste of any elevated kind for any branch of literature, of science, or the fine arts, except music. He was utterly ignorant of the English language, though he had for many years had the prospect of succeeding to the English throne, and though his mother was said to be perfectly familiar with the speech of his royal ancestors. On the other hand, he was not without his sober virtues. He was brave, and understood military affairs, yet he loved peace. He was economical, if not rather penurious; he was just and honourable in private life, and capable of a sedate but not zealous friendship. Such was the man who appeared to occupy the throne of a great, enlightened, and busy- spirited nation. His German subjects had seen him depart with tears and regret; his English ones beheld hihi arrive with wonder and disappointment. From the moment that he reached his capital it was obvious that the whigs possessed his exclusive favour. The tories who hastened to welcome him even on the road were received with chilling coldness. The chancellor Harcourt was dismissed, though he hastened to carry to him the patent of peerage for the prince of Wales. The duke of Ormonde, while on his way to Greenwich to pay his homage, received the message that he would not be admitted to the royal presence. Before his landing he had forwarded orders to remove Bolingbroke, and appoint lord Townshend as secretary of state in his place; and the blunt rudeness with which this had been done by Shrewsbury, Cowper, and

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